From the beginning, the day looked like Floyd's. Faldo double-bogeyed the 1st hole to fall five strokes behind, but the signal that he hadn't folded came at the par-3 12th, where he saved par with a gutsy shot from a back bunker. Nevertheless, by the time Faldo had reached number 13, Floyd, who was playing behind him, had birdied 12, leaving Faldo, with birdies on 7 and 9, still four back.
That's when somebody switched Floyds. Faldo went for the green on the par-5 13th and made birdie. Three back. Floyd hit a lousy drive on 13 but later admitted that even if he had hit a good one, "I probably wouldn't have gone for it." At 15, Faldo swallowed hard, smashed that 234-yard two-iron over trees and chipped and putted for birdie. Two back. Floyd laid up and made par.
In between, on 14, Floyd had a birdie chip that was headed dead for the hole, but it hit a penny Huston had used to mark his ball and missed by half an inch. Said Floyd, "Huston asked me, 'How's my coin?' and I told him it was O.K. I didn't think it was in my way, but it was. The ball would've gone in the hole if it hadn't been for that penny." The Masters Abe Lincoln Lost.
When Faldo drained a 15-foot birdie putt on 16, he was only one back. And when Floyd pulled an easy nine-iron approach to the 17th green way left, putted six feet past the cup from 35 feet and never scared the hole on the come-backer, the tournament was tied. "That putt just never lost any speed," said Floyd about the first one.
Now Floyd was losing it. In fact, he had to make an ulcerous par out of not one but two sand traps on 18 to force extra holes.
For Faldo, the playoff was déjà vu. For Faldo, the playoff was déjà vu. He had been in the same spot a year ago, when on number 10, the first hole of sudden death, Scott Hoch had missed his now famous Hoch-as-in-choke two-footer that would have given him the victory. Hoch went on to lose at 11. "I wasn't comfortable at all on that 10th tee," Faldo said. "I couldn't help thinking, Does this mean I'm to be done in this time?"
That certainly seemed to be the case after Faldo hit his approach to 10 into the right bunker and Floyd plunked his seven-iron 15 feet from the pin, dead below the cup. But Karma must have gotten a bad fax. Faldo blasted out to within three feet of the hole and made the putt, and Floyd left his birdie putt, cardinal-sinfully short. "Maybe it was the dew," he said.
On to 11, where Floyd stroked a seven-iron that will rank among the rank shots of his life. It was another pull, and it was so ashamed that it drowned itself in the pond guarding the hole. "Maybe I was lined up wrong," said Floyd. "It didn't feel like I pulled it 10 yards left."
All Faldo had to do was keep from breaking into God Save the Queen long enough to throw an eight-iron onto the fat, dry part of the green, lag up and tap in for the third major championship of his career and only the second two-peat in Masters history. Two victories in two years in two playoffs on the same hole. Maybe Augusta should just give Faldo a condo behind 11 and be done with it.
The Brits in attendance started a very British chant: "Well done, Nick! Well done, Nick!" Indeed, this win may raise Faldo for good over Lyle, his longtime British rival. Faldo and Lyle were 16 when they first began trading golf trophies back and forth, but Lyle has been out of the running for almost two years now with what may be career-threatening swing problems.